A new AP-NORC poll has discovered a surprising practice among regular churchgoers.
They rarely go to their pastors for advice.
The survey found that a large majority of Americans make important decisions without calling on their religious leaders, with three-quarters saying they rarely or never consult a clergy member or religious leader, while only about a quarter do so at least some of the time.
The American Pastors Network (APN) is looking at this study as perhaps a commentary on the American church.
APNPresident Sam Rohrer, host of the popular daily radio program, “Stand in the Gap Today,” heard on more than 425 stations nationwide, as well as the daily radio feature, “Stand in the Gap Minute,” says the relationship between pastors and people in the pews has changed over several decades.
“Churches are changing—that fact is undeniable,” Rohrer said. “Even as few as five or 10 years ago, most parishioners wouldn’t have thought twice about going to their pastor for counsel. These conversations in the offices of pastors were commonplace. Now, for a host of reasons, these times to talk about the issues that are on the hearts of church attendees aren’t as frequent—and that is unfortunate. One reason is that if church attendees feel connected to the pastor and leadership, they are more likely to not only keep attending on a regular basis, but also to become engaged in the life of the church. Secondly, in an age when technology drives much of what we do, personal connection is paramount. Face-to-face interaction, especially with our pastors, will keep us grounded in our faith and as a contributing member of the Body of Christ.”
One churchgoer interviewed by AP for coverage on the poll said being a part of a larger church and being relatively new attendees were reasons counsel was not sought from the senior pastor. This same lack of personal connection spills into other areas as well. This same churchgoer said, for example, that rather than calling someone to ask for help on a health insurance question, he spent an hour online searching for answers.
As for church attendance in general, the poll found that about a third of Americans say they attend church or other religious services at least twice a month; roughly a quarter never go. As expected, those who attend more often are more likely to consult with a religious leader.
“We hope and pray that pastors are doing everything they can to communicate that their office doors are open to their church attendees,” Rohrer said. “Even as churches grow and we find ways to get advice and answer questions online, there is no replacement for the interaction that God calls the members of His family to have.”